South Dakota Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Hosts Inaugural Reception

On January 12, the South Dakota Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus; the 47th state to join the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC), hosted an inaugural reception bringing together more than 60 members of the South Dakota legislature as well as representatives from sportsmen’s groups, the Governor’s office, outdoor industry, and the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks.

The gathering offered an opportunity for South Dakota lawmakers to consider joining the Caucus and exchange ideas with members of the state’s sportsmen’s community about how to protect and advance the time-honored traditions of hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping in the state.

Brad Franklin with Yamaha Motor Corporation and past CSF Board Member welcomed and thanked the South Dakota legislators for forming their sportsmen’s caucus and working to enhance public access to our public lands. “Your efforts mean a great deal for all of the Yamaha dealers statewide, their employees, their families, and the thousands of Yamaha customers using products in this great state. Whether it’s ranching, farming, hunting, camping, or just recreating with family and friends, access is key and thank you for ensuring that it is available to the American sportsmen and women now and for generations to come,” said Franklin.

“I was very pleased with the turnout of over 60 members. This is a testament to the strong sportsmen’s heritage we have here in South Dakota. This, in combination with the support of tonight’s sponsors and others within in the sportsmen’s community, will ensure we become a strong caucus here in Pierre,” said Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Spencer Hawley.

Special guest, Benny Spies; host of the Sportsman Channel series Gun It with Benny Spies, attended the event and shared his perspective on hunting as a native South Dakotan and how he turned his passion for the outdoors into a livelihood. “I remember how exciting it was as a kid to get together with family and friends and spend a fun weekend pheasant hunting. I remember riding on tailgates and walking through those cattail sloughs, and corn fields, and shelterbelts,” said Benny. “Lifelong traditions are born from pheasant hunting, and there’s no place like South Dakota where you can go to experience the excitement of the sport. It is therefore vitally important for this group to work together to help protect and promote these South Dakota traditions.”

Caucus Co-Chair Sen. Scott Parsley reflected on the great hunting traditions in his state. “I can remember exactly where I shot my first pheasant in 1964 and where I shot my most recent pheasant a week ago Saturday. These memories afield are lasting and that’s what pheasant hunting is all about in South Dakota,” said Sen. Parsley.

Caucus Co-Chair Sen. Gary Cammack added, “Over half of the South Dakota legislature showed up here tonight. It shows the kind of support we have for our sportsmen’s activities; although, you never want to take anything for granted. As time goes on it seems like there are less people participating in hunting and fishing and so we need to get more young folks involved in it and introduce this way of life to those who might not have the financial means to get going in the sport or a family that participates in the traditions.”

Over 450,000 hunters and anglers spend over $1.04 billion a year in South Dakota on their outdoor pursuits. It is therefore vitally important both culturally and economically to safeguard South Dakota’s time-honored traditions. This newly formed bipartisan and bicameral sportsmen’s caucus is poised to do just that. “The turnout was outstanding and the emphasis on the South Dakota hunting heritage tonight is just critical. It’s a fight to continue to offer the great hunting opportunities South Dakota is known for and so we have a lot of work to do to promote the conservation of our natural resources so that future generations can enjoy what this great state has to offer,” said Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Lee Schoenbeck.

The South Dakota Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Kickoff Reception Title Sponsor was Ducks Unlimited. The Host Sponsor was Yamaha. Co-Host sponsors included the South Dakota Elk Breeders Association, North American Deer Farmers Association, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. The event was also supported by Bass Pro Shops.

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Sportsmen and women have been on the receiving end of increased attention from the non-hunting public, criticizing the traditional “grip and grin” photos on various social media platforms. As a sportsman or sportswoman, what strategies have you utilized to address this negative feedback?

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